Posted February 5, 2008 6:42 am by with 9 comments

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I know that eMarketer’s numbers on the growth of podcasting should make us all feel warm and fuzzy, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the channel has severely under delivered.

The good news is that US audience numbers should grow from a total audience of 18.5 million in 2007 to a whopping 65 million by 2012. Also good news, the amount spent on podcast advertising should grow from $165 million to $435 million by 2012.

But, let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

If you read the small print, you’ll see that "total podcast audience" is made up of "individuals who have ever downloaded a podcast." What does that mean? Well, it certainly must include those that have downloaded a single podcast, thought to themselves "this sucks" and then went back to listening to their radio or mp3 player.

But wait, it gets worse!

That number also includes anyone from "ages 3+." Huh? OK, last time I checked, 3-year olds were not listening to podcasts and making buying decisions based on the ads they hear.

With that in mind let’s turn our attention to a more meaningful number: those active podcast listeners that download at least one podcast a week. That bloated number of 65 million drops to just 25 million. That’s 25 million, including toddlers!

OK, I admit, 25 million is still a pretty impressive number, but it’s still not stellar growth for the medium, is it? Especially when one analyst is calling for the industry to already hit maturation.

Are you disappointed with the growth of podcasts? Do you include podcasts in your advertising budget?

  • I think it is still growing. I mean I only really found out what they were and started using them last month and I consider myself pretty switched on when it comes to technology.

  • I never realized that podcasts had such a broad listener base. I’ve never actually listened to a podcast, maybe I’ll have to check it out.

  • I can’t say I listen to many or any podcasts. For me it’s a time thing. I usually don’t have a half hour or an hour to give to them. I’ve downloaded the occasional mp3 and find I never listen to it.

    At some point I’m sure I’ll give podcasts a try, but for the moment my media needs to come at me aksing for less of my time.

  • Mobile devices can change the numbers.

  • I listen to podcasts all the time. Unfortunately, it seems that podcasts have remained a tool used only by techies, with very slow adoption by the masses, which ultimately are what potential advertisers are looking for. I don’t forecast podcast ROI would come even close to PPC, SEO, or email marketing any time soon.

  • I consider myself a ‘techie’ and listen to about 6 podcasts per week. I think the audience is mostly younger people, so over time they will consume more podcasts. Just about every college kid these days has an iPod and podcasts are a great marketing tool that many businesses have yet to tap into. At JOBS IN PODS we’ve beean able to achieve ROI of 25-50 cents per download. Employers pay us a flat fee to podcast their jobs.

  • Sweeper Dave

    One of the greatest obstacles to the masses taking to podcasts is that of subscribing to their very first podcast. As easy as iTunes or the other aggregators are to use, many prospective podcast listeners need to be educated on how to receive podcasts. I believe that a threshold will be crossed once a vast number of users understand just how simple it is to subscribe. Both podcasters and aggregator apps makers (such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc.) need to make this happen.

  • I’m sorry – I just find it hard to believe in that growth – who in thier right mind would give up the large tv or the computer or laptop 15 to 21 inch screen to watch a screen the size of three fingers.
    I know they aren’t going to watch the superbowl or the olympics on it??

    It’s probably more teens, tweens,and kids that will enjoy this and then get back to thier tv when they get home….

  • I am very tech savy, but I never use podcasts. Someday I’ll finally get around to it.